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Home Reviews 5G is nice, but we should be talking more about IPv6

5G is nice, but we should be talking more about IPv6

Almost every internet service provider on the market is racing towards making 5G networks available. 5G brings a number of advantages over 4G; advantages that will significantly improve our internet experience. The extremely low latency, for instance, makes 5G suitable for real-time applications.

Its higher speed ceiling, on the other hand, allows 5G connectivity to carry more bandwidth and be used in heavier applications. You can stream up to 8K videos on a 5G network without ever hitting the speed limit or suffering from bottlenecks. The future is bright for multimedia content.

However, 5G should not be the primary focus in today’s market. While having 5G as quickly as possible is nice, there are other challenges that ISPs need to solve, one of which is the shortage of IP addresses and the need for IPv6.

The IPv4 Crisis

We have to understand that IPv4 is a 32-bit IP address system. You get the usual xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx combination for every public IP address. Being 32-bit, the maximum number of unique IP addresses that can be generated in an IPv4 system is 4,294,967,296; a little over 4 billion.

4.3 billion may seem like a large number, but almost all of the available IP addresses are now in use. Some countries have already run out of IPv4 addresses to assign. Each device connected to the internet using a dedicated IP address consumes one address. The average consumer has up to six connected devices at any given time.

The problem gets worse when you consider the level of adoption we are now seeing. There are more mobile devices on the market than ever before. A recent survey in the United States revealed that there are twice as many phones as there are people in urban areas.

We also have the rising use of IoT devices threatening the existence of IPv4 as a system. Each smart device needs an IP address to be able to communicate with the rest of the internet. Before it can send and receive data, it must validate its public IP address.

This is quickly becoming a crisis that many ISPs (and users) face. IP addresses are scarce resources and steps need to be taken in order to solve the crisis. That brings us to the next advancement in IP address, the IPv6.

Introducing IPv6

IPv6 was introduced for the purpose of accommodating more devices. Since it was officially ratified in 2017, IPv6 has been slowly replacing IPv4 across the internet. It is an internet protocol based on a 128-bit naming system, which means IPv6 can accommodate a significantly higher number of devices.

Under the new IPv6, 340 undecillion (340 billion billion billion billion) IP addresses can be generated. Many proxy providers offer you to change you IP address quickly and easily.  It is an instant solution to the IPv4 crisis, and it is quickly becoming the future of the internet. ISPs and cloud operators have been slowly migrating their network nodes to IPv6.

If you are a cloud service user and you are familiar with services like AWS or Digital Ocean, you will notice that most nodes now have two IP addresses, one based on IPv4 and another based on IPv6. We are currently in the transition phase.

The same is true with mobile networks and other connectivity options. Two IP addresses, IPv4 and IPv6, are still in use to make sure that the transition to the new 128-bit standard is seamless. It will not be long before all devices are forced to use IPv6.

At that point, IPv4 will be slowly phased out. The 32-bit internet protocol no longer suits the challenges of modern connectivity. Older devices that cannot adapt to IPv6 will become obsolete in 5 to 10 years, although steps are being taken to prolong that lifespan.

IPv6 Advantages

IPv6 doesn’t just offer a 128-bit internet protocol with more IP addresses to assign. It also comes with extra advantages, starting with better IPSEC as a necessity. With the growing number of cyberattacks threatening servers and data pools, having better IPSEC is certainly a huge plus.

IPv6 also supports multicast natively, allowing for data transmissions to be more fluid and easily manageable. Routing prefixes, unicast address prefix, and IP blocks can be used to organize traffic to and from multiple network nodes.

There is also SLAAC, which stands for Stateless Address Autoconfiguration. As the name suggests, IPv6 hosts are designed to configure themselves automatically. This means old problems such as conflicting IP addresses will no longer be an issue; hosts and devices will sort these issues out automatically.

Last but certainly not least, IPv6 supports better mobility. There will be no more triangular routing once all devices switch to IPv6 since the protocol is designed to be as robust as it can be; an entire subnet can be moved to a different network node with ease.

Yes, 5G is the future of internet connectivity, but it is not the technology we want to focus on right now. It is time to shift our focus towards IPv6 and solve the IPv4 crisis immediately.

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